The depth of the Prince Albert Raiders was on full display at the Art Hauser Centre Friday night.
Dante Hannoun, Ozzy Wiesblatt and Sean Montgomery all scored for the hosts and Ian Scott stopped all 28 shots he faced from the Red Deer Rebels as the Raiders opened up their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final series with a 3-0 victory.
“It was a complete team performance,” Hannoun said. “Everyone bought in to the points that we have been stressing here heading into this series.
“Everyone played hard tonight and they matched the level of play that we’re setting as a standard for the playoffs.”
The Raiders had numerous chances during the opening frame but were unable to solve Ethan Anders until Hannoun converted a great feed from Aliaksei Protas with 31.6 seconds left on the clock.
“Their was some nervous energy early on but our guys were loaded for bear early,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid said.
“We missed a few passes at first and we tried to do a little too much on a few plays, but we were really solid once we settled in. We matched their level of play and got some timely goals.”
Wiesblatt was the next Raider to find the back in the net as the rookie forward converted a rebound near the midway mark of the game for his first post-season goal.
“I had a couple of chances in the first period, especially on a two-on-one where I just missed a pass from (Noah) Gregor, so it was nice to get another chance there and get that first playoff goal out of the way,” Wiesblatt said.
“The atmosphere tonight was even better than I thought it would be for my first playoff game. The fans are unreal here. They are so loud and supportive.”
Montgomery would round out the scoring late in the middle frame, but it was a play before that from Max Martin that Habscheid felt was the turning point of the game.
“They had a point-blank chance and Max put himself out in front to block a really good shot,” Habscheid said. “We went down right away to make it 3-0 and it could have been a totally different game if Red Deer had scored, as they were starting to push back a bit.
“Max is known for his offensive play on the blueline, but he showed that he’s willing to sacrifice his body to help out the team and that’s something a lot of guys did tonight.”
Scott’s best work came in the third period as the Raiders were outshot 7-1, with his best stop being a glove save on a shorthanded rush by Rebels forward Brandon Hagel.
“You have to respect everyone on their team,” Scott said. “They have a lot of talent on offence and it’s going to be a test every night.
“We really structured on defence tonight and there were numerous guys that went out and blocked shots.”
Anders made 25 saves for the Rebels, who have now lost five straight games dating back to the end of the regular season.
Both sides will return to action Saturday at 7 p.m. for Game 2 at the Art Hauser Centre before they head to Red Deer for Game 3 on Tuesday night.
Prior to Scott’s performance on Friday, Jesse Deckert was the last Raiders netminder to earn a shutout in the playoffs as he made 40 saves in a 2-0 win over the Brandon Wheat Kings in Game 3 of the 2007 Eastern Conference quarter-final.
The Rebels offence was also stymied in the opening game of last year’s playoffs as Logan Flodell stopped all 30 shots he faced in a 6-0 victory for the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Hannoun and Justin Nachbaur both returned to the Raiders’ lineup after missing last Saturday’s season finale against the Saskatoon Blades, which meant that blueliner Loeden Schaufler was the only scratch for the hosts.
The Rebels were without the services of Kyle Masters, Hunter Donohoe and Alexander Alexeyev on the blueline, in addition to forwards Ethan Rowland, Jordan Borysiuk and Blake Sydlowski.
Friday’s Playoff Scores
- Saskatoon 3 Moose Jaw 2 (Saskatoon leads 1-0 – Chase Wouters Overtime Winner – Brandon Schuldhaus – Two Assists)
- Lethbridge 3 Calgary 2 (Lethbridge leads 1-0 – Calen Addison Overtime Winner – Carl Tetachuk – 31 Saves)
- Spokane 5 Portland 2 (Spokane leads 1-0 – Bailey Brkin – 34 Saves)
- Victoria 4 Kamloops 0 (Victoria leads 1-0 – Griffen Outhouse – 28 Saves – First Career Playoff Shutout – Dino Kambeitz – Two Goals)
- Vancouver 7 Seattle 1 (Vancouver leads 1-0 – Dylan Plouffe – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Everett 6 Tri-City 1 (Everett leads 1-0 – Jake Christiansen – Three Assists)
- Ottawa 9 Hamilton 3 (Ottawa leads 1-0 – Sasha Chmelevski – Two Goals and Two Assists)
- Sudbury 5 Mississauga 2 (Sudbury leads 1-0 – Nolan Hutcheson – Three Goals – First Career Playoffs Hat Trick)
- London 4 Windsor 3 (London leads 1-0 – Evan Bouchard – Two Goals and Two Assists)
- Guelph 4 Kitchener 2 (Guelph leads 1-0 – Nate Schnarr – One Goal and One Assist)
- Oshawa 7 Peterborough 0 (Oshawa leads 1-0 – Brandon Saigeon – One Goal and Two Assists – Kyle Keyser – 33 Saves – First Career Playoff Shutout)
- Quebec 3 Halifax 2 (Quebec leads 1-0 – Carmine-Anthony Pagliarulo – 19 Saves)
- Charlottetown 3 Cape Breton 2 (Charlottetown leads 1-0 – Brett Budgell Double Overtime Winner – Hunter Drew – Two Assists)
- Blainville-Boisbriand 5 Sherbrooke 1 (Blainville-Boisbriand leads 1-0 – Simon Pinard – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Victoriaville 4 Val-d’Or 2 (Victoriaville leads 1-0 – Egor Serdyuk – Three Goals – First Career Playoff Hat Trick)
- Rouyn-Noranda 4 Shawinigan 1 (Rouyn-Noranda leads 1-0 – Noah Dobson – Two Assists)
- Drummondville 4 Gatineau 0 (Drummondville leads 1-0 – Joseph Veleno – Three Goals – First Career Playoff Hat Trick – Anthony Morrone – 17 Saves – First Career Playoff Shutout)
- Baie-Comeau 2 Moncton 1 (Baie-Comeau leads 1-0 – Christopher Benoit Overtime Winner – Francis Leclerc – 47 Saves)
- Rimouski 4 Chicoutimi 3 (Rimouski leads 1-0 – Jimmy Huntington Overtime Winner – Two Goals and One Assist)
Thursday’s Playoff Scores
- Niagara 2 North Bay 0 (Niagara leads 1-0 – Christian Propp – 50 Saves – Stephen Dhillon – 23 Saves – First Career Playoff Shutout)
- Saginaw 6 Sarnia 3 (Saginaw leads 1-0 – Owen Tippett – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Owen Sound 4 Sault Ste. Marie 3 (Owen Sound leads 1-0 – Maksim Sushko Overtime Winner – Two Goals and One Assist)
- Blainville-Boisbriand vs. Sherbrooke (Game 2) – 2 p.m.
- Moncton vs. Baie-Comeau (Game 2) – 2 p.m.
- Chicoutimi vs. Rimouski (Game 2) – 2 p.m.
- Quebec vs. Halifax (Game 2) – 4 p.m.
- Cape Breton vs. Charlottetown (Game 2) – 4:30 p.m.
- Shawinigan vs. Rouyn-Noranda (Game 2) – 5 p.m.
- Gatineau vs. Drummondville (Game 2) – 5 p.m.
- North Bay vs. Niagara (Game 2) – 5 p.m.
- Mississauga vs. Sudbury (Game 2) – 5 p.m.
- Sarnia vs. Saginaw (Game 2) – 5 p.m.
- Owen Sound vs. Sault Ste. Marie (Game 2) – 5 p.m.
- Moose Jaw vs. Saskatoon (Game 2) – 7 p.m.
- Red Deer vs. Prince Albert (Game 2) – 7 p.m.
- Calgary vs. Lethbridge (Game 2) – 7 p.m.
- Medicine Hat vs. Edmonton (Game 1) – 7:30 p.m.
- Seattle vs. Vancouver (Game 2) – 8 p.m.
- Tri-City vs. Everett (Game 2) – 8 p.m.
- Portland vs. Spokane (Game 2) – 8 p.m.
- Kamloops vs. Victoria (Game 2) – 8 p.m.